Striving to Rollback or Protect Roe: State Legislation and the Trump-Era Politics of Abortion (2020)
in: Publius: the journal of federalism, Volume 50, Issue 3, p. 370-397
Abortion's centrality to the Christian Right, together with that movement's importance to Republican Party politics, as well as the policy realities of abortion, have all combined to make regulating abortion a fixture within U.S. state politics for decades. While the levels and forms of state activity have varied since the 1980s, the Trump presidency has produced strategic changes in the content and perceived importance of abortion policy. Notably, recent changes in the state politics of abortion have not just been on the side of Republican states restricting abortion access, the most traditional and highest profile form of policy activity in this area, but have also taken the form of Democratic states actively defending abortion access. This article provides an overview of the interrelated changes in party politics, perceptions of political opportunities, and the content of state abortion regulations. It concludes that the frequency of state abortion laws has increased modestly during the Trump presidency, but substantive shifts in recent policies create the potential to fundamentally reorganize state and national abortion politics.